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A lot has changed for Cory Hall in the past two days.

On Monday he was part of a press conference to officially announce the departure of Gary Andersen and the promotion of Hall to interim head coach of the Oregon State football team.

"I think I woke up this morning and was like, I'm a head coach," Hall said.

"This is kind of like a familiar feeling. I've been thrust into a situation like this, not quite like this, but I've been asked to step in on an interim role. For me it was just like what I do as a position coach, just on a grander scale."

Hall has spoken to Andersen and the players about the situation.

He said Andersen is a great mentor and will be missed. As for the players, they are having a difficult time trying to understand what has happened.

"My message to them is it's the nature of the business," Hall said. "This happens across the country to teams every season. It's happened to me and now it's happened to a few of them multiple times across their collegiate career. So it's just a part of it."

Although the team had a walk-through on Monday evening, Hall's first full practice with the Beavers was on Tuesday morning.

Hall said the practice went well and the players had a lot of energy.

"I'm proud of them because they came out here and they worked hard and they're focused," Hall said. "They're doing everything that we've asked them to do as a staff, and I couldn't be more proud. Again, I think a lot of it has to do with what they're doing it for, who they're doing it for.

"The walk-through last night, at first it was kind of somber, but it finished on a high note. And today we started on a high note and finished on a high note. They are responding well. I'm proud of the boys."

Hall wants his high-energy approach to rub off on the players to keep them excited while locked on task.

That was evident during Tuesday's practice, where there were several outbursts of cheers and demonstrative celebrations from the players.

"He's a great guy. He brings a lot of energy to the table and I feel like he's a leader," running back Artavis Pierce said. "He understands us as athletes and I feel like he's in a great position and I trust him.

"We feel a little more hype because we feel the coach hyping us up. He's feeling us and we're feeling him and it just bringing a great vibe."

Expect that to be a Hall trademark through the rest of the season.

He wants the team and coaches to have a good time with the sport instead of turning it into a grind.

"I won't change, I haven't changed and the players know that and I think the assistant coaches know that," Hall said. "So the goal is to have fun playing the game that we played as children and now we're grown up, we're young adults, being able to play a kids' game. It has its serious points but it's fun at the end of the day."

Hall is a defensive-oriented coach who focused primarily on cornerbacks during his career.

On Tuesday, Hall spread around his attention, making sure he got a good look at all the workings of the team.

"Especially during the extended individual period, just watching guys and kind of watching their body language and their demeanor, seeing if they were ready to work, and I love what I saw," Hall said.

"Obviously I'm a defensive guy and I think I lean more toward the defense, but I stay focused on offense, too. It's just a great balance, I believe."

Hall said the Beavers will stay with the same philosophy on both sides of the ball. They will focus on establishing the run and try to play a physical brand of football.

There will be no significant changes to the schemes for now.

"I think these kids have gotten comfortable with both schemes on both sides of the ball and I don't think at this point in time it would be conducive to have a lot of changes for them," Hall said. "But what we want them to do is we want them to play physical, we want them to play fast, but most importantly we want them to be smart football players. So the way you do that is repetition and you don't increase the load, you just keep it where it was."

He has met with the seniors and each coach individually.

He is going to stay away from calling plays for now and has no plans to make any changes with the staff at this point.

"I'm going to sit back and I'm going to let them do what they've been hired to do," Hall said. "I'm not going to interfere. I don't think right now that I should do that to them. They're professionals and they can get the job done. It's just like any head coach — I demand excellence and that's the long and short of it."

No music

The team practiced without the usual music in the background for the first time in a few years.

Hall said he wanted the players to focus on the details of their assignments.

"(And) let them hear themselves think," Hall said. "It was a player-choice type deal. They wanted to make sure they understood the game plan, they wanted to make sure it was clearly instructed into them so that they could really focus in on their assignments."

Balancing the chip 

Hall said everyone on the team has a chip on his shoulder, and he certainly did as a player.

The good part for the players is football allows them to release some of that pent- up attitude.

The problem comes when a player becomes too emotional on the field and winds up drawing a flag. That happened at USC last Saturday when Seth Collins was penalized for taunting a defensive player.

"I'd talk to Seth and you just tell him, Hey, if you want to celebrate and have fun, celebrate and have fun with me," Hall said. "You can come celebrate and have fun with me over there on the sidelines, and I don't want to take anything away from your passion and your love of the game but there's a time and place for everything."


Sports Reporter

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